Posted 9th October 2013 | By Peter Voss, Account Manager

You'll have gathered from previous blogs that we like to share what we have found in respect of the latest trends in web-technology and design. We've also had an occasional sales and marketing perspective on what we do, so that really only leaves one area that we haven't touched on for a while and that's the complexity of working in multiple languages across multiple cultures.

So, we have decided to share with you, in an occasional series, some cultural observations that have informed how we do, what we do.

There are many potential pitfalls to working in multiple languages – the biggest one being the problems arising from poor translations. However, simply reading or listening to content in another language can provide many moments of unintentional hilarity – and having a warped sense of humour – I'd like to share a few of my personal favourites.

A couple of the better ones are courtesy of the Eurovision Song Contest... a much maligned institution that was far better when everybody had to sing in one of their official languages, in my opinion...

My all time favourite comes from the winning 1978, Israeli entry, as heard by Terry Wogan:

"I want to be a Polar Bear" which is properly -

Then of course there is the incomparable 1985 Swedish entry:
"Bra vibrationer" which actually means "Good vibrations"

Moving away from the sung word, then German gives us a potentially appropriate name for a Town Hall in "Rathaus". Whilst Dutch (possibly because of its similarity to English) has a few to raise an eyebrow – where a bit of a party animal is a "feestbeest" and surprisingly outstanding things are in fact "shitterende". There's not much love lost in Norwegian for speed bumps, where they are called "fartshumper" and similarly in Sweden where they are "fartshinderer".

In truth it is Swedish that is the source of the majority words and phrases that have brought a smile to my face, in particular:
"Kräpp" which actually is a brand of toilet paper,
"Bums" which are a type of biscuit which you might get as a
"Julklapp" or Christmas present

And where else could you "Ta en titt" (take a look) at something that "släpps" (is released) at "klockan är sex prick" (at six o'clock, sharp)!

Written by Peter Voss - Account Manager


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Multilingual Account Manager